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Top 10 TV Motorcycle Mad Men & Biker Babes

Bryan Hepperle - September 10, 2013


With our favorite outlaw Jax and the rest of the SAMCRO boys cruising back to FX tonight, September 10, 2013, at 10pm ET/PT for a sixth season of family-style crime, we here at TV Tango can't help but admire the majestic and intimidating elegance of those finely crafted custom Harleys they speed around on. All that chopper exhaust got us dizzy, but it also got us thinking — sure, the Sons of Anarchy are a gang of violent, wicked thugs, but how much of that rebellious image is simply a byproduct of the sweet hogs they ride? Would Clay still be as menacing if he peddled illegal weapons out of the trunk of his fuel-efficient '08 Barcelona Red Prius? Or would Jax still make the ladies swoon after peeling out of the auto shop in a '94 Beige Lincoln Towncar? Well, probably, but let's face it, there's just something about the combustible roar of a crotch-rocket that turns ordinary men into extraordinary badasses.

Here are 10 of TV's biggest biker badasses and their motorcycles of choice. Does the bike really make the man (or woman)? You be the judge…


Show: Happy Days (ABC, 1974)


Rider: Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli


Bike: Triumph Pre-Unit 500 CC Twin (later episodes)


Fonzie is one of TV's original biker rebels and his persona has certainly stood the test of time. A grease-monkey high-school dropout, the Fonz had a potent brand of '50s grit that bordered the realm of supernatural power. He could summon beautiful girls to his side with the snap of his fingers and will jukeboxes to play just by elbowing them. 

Show: CHiPs (NBC, 1977)


Rider: Frank "Ponch" Poncherello


Bike: Kawasaki KZ-900P Police Motorcycle


A handsome highway cop with aviators, a snugly tailored uniform, and a healthy respect for the law doesn't exactly evoke the swagger of a ballsy road warrior, but don't let his clean-cut demeanor fool you. Ponch is the man. He's a cop who's not afraid to break protocol -- whether that means fist-fighting a driver in the middle of a high speed chase or roaring away from a tanker explosion in slo-mo. Ponch is without a doubt one of the toughest bikers to come out of the funkadelic disco era.


Show: Then Came Bronson (NBC, 1969)


Rider: Jim Bronson


Bike: Harley Davidson Sportster


Bronson is more of a thinking man's badass who happens to ride a motorcycle. An intellectual rebel without a cause, if you will. After the devastating suicide of his best friend, he wanders the country aimlessly on his motorcycle, touching the lives of strangers while reflecting on the nature of life. Yeah, I know, I know, not exactly a portrait of brazen manliness. But, if anything, we can at least agree that unlike him, his Harley Sportster was a mean, growlin' slice of corn-fed American muscle.

Show: Renegade (Syndicated, 1992)


Rider: Reno Raines


Bike: Harley Davidson Softail Custom


A Duster clad Lorenzo Lamas as an ex-cop who rats out his corrupt colleagues, is framed for the murder of his own wife, and roams the countryside a wanted freelance bounty hunter dealing out fistfuls of vigilante justice? Someone call the Oxford English Dictionary, because I think I found a new definition of the word "badass."

Show: Dark Angel (FOX, 2000)


Rider: Max "X5-452" Guevara


Bike: Kawasaki Ninja 650


How could you possibly make a genetically-enhanced government-created killing machine anymore deadly? Put it in tight leather atop a jet-black Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle. Not only was Max a sexy, powerful, defected government super-soldier, she navigated the futuristic streets of Seattle in true cyberpunk style. Who says girls can't be biker badasses?

Show: Witchblade (TNT, 2001)


Rider: Sara Pezzini


Bike: Buell Lightning X1


Speaking of hot motorcycle mamas, Ms. Pezzini easily makes the list as the hard-boiled NYC detective who discovers the witchblade, an ancient medieval weapon that fuses to her body. Capable of transforming into an indestructible sword and full suit of armor, the self-aware gauntlet enhances her natural abilities while symbiotically consuming her. On the bright side, enchanted unbreakable motorcycle apparel would make riding a slightly safer activity.

Show: Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC, 1969)


Rider: Dr. Steven Kiley


Bike: Triumph Bonneville


Kiley brought the cool factor to Dr. Welby's aging practice, and the women just couldn't wait for his house calls. Sure the hip young doc rode without a helmet, but he wore a suit and carried his medical bag on the handlebars. Didn't he ever hear of leathers and saddlebags? With that look, he was definitely more candyass than badass.

Show: Street Hawk (ABC, 1985)


Rider: Jesse Mach


Bike: Custom Honda XR500


Another ex-cop with a dark past and an insatiable need for speed, Jesse was chosen by the government to participate in a top secret project: fighting crime in an experimental fully-automated attack motorcycle. Think Knight Rider minus two wheels and a Hasselhoff. But was he really that radical? Let's just say, if he told you, he'd have to kill you.

Show: California Dreams (NBC, 1992)


Rider: Jake Sommers


Bike: Harley Davidson


MIT scientists proved that nothing is more milquetoast than California Dreams, so it's a miracle that any character on the show could be a reckless biker. Like most teen sitcoms of the '90s, this culturally diverse group hung out at a burger joint and played in a quasi-Christian rock band. Even though he was the group's watered-down Fonzie on guitar and often displayed his sensitive side, he always wore a black leather jacket and drove a Harley. That's got to count for something.

Show: M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972)


Rider: Capt. B.J. Hunnicut


Bike: Indian Scout


Even though being a war veteran makes you an instant badass for life, it doesn't hurt to show it off a little atop a banana yellow Indian Scout motorcycle. Though the bike only made an appearance at the end of the series, it became part of the iconic ending scene in which Hunnicut and Pierce leave the camp for the last time knowing they'll never see each other again. With over 106 million viewers watching the episode, the Indian Scout is officially the most famous TV bike of all time.


Honorable mention goes to Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo from Biker Mice from Mars. Yes, I realize that both the bikers and the bikes in this show aren't real, but come on, they're talking mice! From Mars! They at least deserve a shout-out. They have mechanically enhanced appendages and shoot lasers from their choppers at aliens that are trying to take over the world. Cartoon or not, they deserve their rightful place in the eternal halls of biker badassery.



Bryan Hepperle is a graduate of the Film and Media Studies program at UCSB. When he's not watching TV, he's either sleeping or right about to watch TV. Raised on I Love Lucy, The Simpsons, and Saved By The Bell, Bryan subscribes to the belief that TV is, was, and always will be the answer to all of life's problems.